Poems of Love and War

Skempton, Howard (2020) Poems of Love and War. [Composition]

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‘Poems of love and War’ is a sequence of settings of nine poems from ‘Viking Poetry of Love and War’ by Judith Jesch. The war poems come first and are formal and celebratory, making vivid use of figures of speech known as “kennings”. The love poems are more direct, and sometimes playful.

The aim was to compose choral music that was fresh and timeless. With that in mind, there is formality in the rhythmic character of the settings. A tried-and-tested technique, giving longer value to strong syllables and shorter values to weak, seemed appropriate.

The language is diatonic, and many of the tunes were composed on a 20-button concertina to ensure this. The harmony is modal. The music is not chromatic on the face of it, and yet it is inherently chromatic. The poems cry out for colour, and the intention was always somehow to reveal it.

There is a change of texture in the sixth and seventh settings: ‘All the grown girls’ is a canon for female voices, and ‘In Gymir’s gardens’ is for tenors and basses in rhythmic unison.

Tender, lyrical melody is at a premium in the eight setting, ‘It’s a fact, wise woman’, and in the ninth, ‘Praise the day at evening’, where the upper voices sing a tune in thirds and sixths, the tenors and basses humming a pedal note.

Item Type: Composition
6 May 2020Published
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-02 - performing arts > CAH25-02-02 - music
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Depositing User: Andrew Ingamells
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2021 14:53
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:53
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/11005

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